THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE

by Dave McGillivray

I am one of the lucky ones. I have made just about all of the mistakes, yet I am still running around to talk about them. Unfortunately, many of my close running buddies from years past have been advised by doctors to hang up their racing shoes and take up knitting or bird watching.

For those relatively new to the sport of running (I don't like the word jogging) to stay fit, all you need to do is to talk to a runner or two who has been pounding the pavement for years. They may not be able to tell you what to do but they certainly can tell you what NOT to do. Certainly there are coaches and doctors and a plethora of manuals and books on running, but the best source of bona fide information on the subject is from an experienced runner.

The real secret is to avoid adding words like plantar facetious, chronomalacious, shin splints, sciatica and medial collateral tear to your vocabulary. If you know what these words mean, you probably have become a victim to one or more of them.

As obvious as it may sound, one of the secrets in starting a running or fitness program is first to be able to answer the question, "Why am I doing this?" If you are unable to come up with a few real good reasons, then the likelihood of success with the program will be slim.

The single most important step is to avoid setting yourself up for failure by having unreasonable goals. You must be honest with yourself as to what you truly believe you are capable of accomplishing, given your present physical condition, the time you can commit, pressures of work and family obligations. If you are realistic and patient with yourself, there is usually no reason why you cannot accomplish anything you set out to do.

To help get started on a running program with the goal of possibly participating in your first road race this summer or fall or perhaps to help some of you stay motivated to continue on your running program, here are my personal favorite running tips, developed during 32 years and 100,000+ miles of running. For those of you who are experienced runners yourself, I am sure you can identify with many, if not all, of these suggestions.

REASONABLE GOALS

Don't set yourself up for failure. Be honest with yourself. Your goals should be consistent with your fitness level. Every person starts at a different level.

PATIENCE

Too many people expect too much too soon. Results will occur but you must be patient and not become frustrated if it is not happening as quickly as you had hoped. It is going to take at least three months, and maybe longer for some, before you really start seeing significant progress. In fact, there is even a good chance you will experience a fair amount of discomfort or even become injured. In giving advise on recovering from an injury, many doctors will suggest the RICE method which stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. I have added the letter P to this and say that when you get injured you must pay the PRICE, with the P standing for patience first, then the other four.

MORE IS NOT ALWAY BETTER

Everyone gets trapped here. We believe that more is better. This is also part of being patient. Your training routines must be very well thought out and followed.

MAKE A COMMITMENT

Share your goals with a few close friends or family members. Many times making a commitment to them can motivate you more than simply committing to yourself.

CONSISTENCY

You must run just about every day. Perhaps take one or two days off a week or every ten days. The busy person should always run first thing in the morning when there are no distractions. Besides, you will feel much better during the hectic work day knowing your workout is already completed.

SACRIFICE

No one said it would be easy. Sacrifices must be made. They may be social activities or abstaining from some of your favorite foods and beverage or even time with friends. In any case, you must be prepared for this eventuality.

KEEPING IT INTERESTING

Running doesn't have to be boring. Run with a partner, if possible. Join a local running club for the coaching and social benefits. Vary your training routes. The point is, if you are serious about your commitment, you will always find ways to design your program for success, not failure.

GRATIFICATION

Do not be afraid to feel proud of yourself for the progress you have made. Too many fall into the trap of always being disappointed in their performance or progress, perhaps because they have set unrealistic goals. Give yourself due credit; it will keep you motivated and committed through the more difficult periods.

OBSESSION

Balance is key. Becoming obsessed with running can ruin your health, your marriage, your family and your job. Set your priorities first; remember you have other responsibilities, obligations and commitments.

DON'T UNDERESTIMATE YOURSELF

I've always said, the worst injustice you can do is to underestimate yourself. It just takes a little willpower and some guts. It really is amazing what the human body is capable of doing, even yours and mine.

Dave McGillivray

If you would like more information on Dave's cross country relay planned for May of '99, or just chat with Dave, you can e-mail DMSE at davemcg@baa.org.

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